National Eating Disorders Association

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How can I be positive around someone in the throes of ed?

UGH, UGH, UGH. It took so long for me to realize why my m-in-law makes my skin crawl. I mean it took years. It's because we both have eds. She, I don't think has any idea she has one, and now that I've been traveling this road for a few years, I can see so clearly both myself and her and how this is affecting us. IT MAKES ME WANT TO SCREAM.
I was so uptight about Easter which I hosted. Having her over for a meal is excruciating without having to deal with my own ed. She wears her ed behaviors on her sleeve and draws so much attention to herself.
I've had my husband talk to her about not talking about food and a few other things. She's a little better on that, but still has these odd behaviors that are like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Trying to avoid eating, lingering on the outskirts of the meal and people, talking about her food aversions, grimacing at food that it outside of her limited scope, picking at food, hiding it. OMG I caught her grabbing some cookies and hiding them in a napkin to take home. She caught me watching her. I was so annoyed I almost grabbed them back.
My husband just says let her go. Ok, I get it, but then she has something happen with her health because she doesn't care for herself properly and calls on my husband and others to come to her to coax her through it. I wish I could find it in myself to find some type of peace with this, but I've been unsuccessful.
I think it will only happen if we talk with her, but my husband likes to dance around things rather than talk about things directly. And even if we do I don't think she'll change, it just might be that we are clearer on why we almost never, ever do anything with her that involves food. She doesn't know I have an ed and I don't think I'd come out directly with that as it would take way too long to explain what an ed actually is. In her mind she probably thinks it's just a good way to stay thin - seriously. This is very important to her and also doesn't help me feel comfortable around her as that is a criteria for her evaluation of people.
Ok, that was a lot of vent. I know it. My m-in-law is in reality a wonderful person outside of this. My children adore their grandmother and I try to keep that in perspective - especially when talking with my kids about her. I encourage the heck out of their time together and feel they are so lucky to have her. I know, I know, I should just focus on that, but it's hard when I'm battling those intrusive ed thoughts and behaviors and the competitiveness that come with it. She brings that out in me so easily. Or is it me allowing it to come out? Wish I was stronger.


Try to limit time with her. Perhaps your kids also notice how she is around food. Please talk to them about it to see what they notice and if it's affecting them.

It's a tough one

If my kids (young adults) notice her food issues they just accept it as "Grandma". They are comfortable with food and are not triggered like me who is dealing with ED. My husband is well aware and knows that she has issues, but there is so little he can do to change her. We can only change us and that's meant, as you said, limiting time with her specifically when it has to do with meals.
I do think a conversation is coming soon as there are the bigger issues of her health now. I think at that time this issue will be brought up. I think the best I can hope for is that she understands why we do what we do, but at her age, I don't expect her to change. This would include seeking help for her ed. She just never would do that. If there's not a pill to take then it's not a real problem.
Thanks :)